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Kathleen Hanna: Grrrl interrupted

The Punk Singer profiles a feminist rocker who walked away.

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Loaded with catchy tunes and catchier ideas, this documentary profiles the fearless feminist rocker Kathleen Hanna, who swam against the current of 90s punk machismo with her Washington-state band Bikini Kill and her influential fanzine Riot Grrrl. Director Sini Anderson draws on numerous archival interviews with Hanna as well as her own, and the singer is articulate and introspective enough to counter all the adoring comments from her bandmates and musical colleagues (Joan Jett, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney). After Bikini Kill split up in 1997, Hanna returned with the more dance-oriented Le Tigre before mysteriously retiring from music in 2005, and this last development allows Anderson to peel away from the entertainment world to great effect. Like Julien Temple's Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (2007), the movie succeeds as a punk chronicle by focusing on a true believer who was lionized by many but who turned out to be only human.

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